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Gregory Hauge, Fargo, Published June 15 2013

Letter: Disclose full impact of fracking

The May 15 Associated Press news release published in The Forum and its companion article describe the dumping of trichloroethylene onto the ground, which eventually leeched into the water wells at Camp Lejeune, N.C. This practice was allowed from “at least” the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s when the wells were capped.

This was described as “the worst case of drinking water contamination in the nation’s history.”

The significance of this contamination has been partially acknowledged by our government, leading to legislation to provide screening and medical care to exposed veterans and their families for multiple chronic health conditions (e.g., cancers).

Fast forward to today when our North Dakota congressional delegation would not have us know what chemicals are being pumped into our federal lands via hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Is this process hypothetically safe or is it absolutely safe? Not many things are absolute, so I suspect some degree of health hazards may await. How much? For whom? Our interest in what is injected into or dumped on our lands should not be casual.

My interest in exposure to contaminated ground water at Camp Lejeune is not casual. I served there from the end of 1971 into 1972. That is the past and cannot be changed. Much of the general public was unaware of the presence of chemical dangers then, but we now know better – that we must be vigilant to guard against environmental and health hazards of contaminants.

I agree with Sen. John Hoeven, R.-N.D., that “a better approach is to let states regulate energy development within their borders.” This will bring the regulators and regulations closer to us citizens so if disease due to contaminations arise, we or our children will be able to know what was done and by whom.

I believe this would be preferable to the remorseful Marine, dying of esophageal cancer, commenting about the hundreds of gallons of chemicals he had been ordered to dump at Camp Lejeune. “When judgment day comes, you know,” he said, “I hope these people who suffered realize that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

I hope our congressional delegation will not put us in that position, and I urge them to support disclosure.